Psychedelic Philosophy: Psychedelic Hermeneutics

Psychedelic Hermeneutics

“A psychedelic society would abandon belief systems for direct experience…The psychedelics are a red-hot, social/ethical issue precisely because they are de-conditioning agents. They will raise doubts in you if you are a Hassidic, a Marxist anthropologist, or an altar boy because their business is to dissolve belief systems. They do this very well, and then they leave you with the raw datum of experience.’” – Terrence McKenna’s ‘Psychedelic Society’

Is it really possible to experience without interpretation? Can we transcend our cultural constraints? Why would this be desirable? Did Terrence McKenna have no influence? Surely? Surely not? Surely a little? Surely ‘under the influence.’

How possible is it, really, to truly ‘abandon belief systems’? Let’s pick this soon-to-be-canonised-if-not-deified psychedelic hero apart, just a little, if we dare.

In a post-truth world of ‘alternative facts’ what can psychedelics tell us about Hermeneutics? Conceived variously as the study of the message, the interpretation of interpretation, and the deconstruction of cultural conditioning this aspect of philosophy can be seen as present from Isaiah and Buddha to Heidegger and Derrida. Throughout the ages, thinkers have considered that viewing the lens that views is not only a possibility, but a necessity in order come closer to ‘what is’. When Isaiah famously spoke of “destroying the wisdom of the wise”, the Buddha spoke of the ‘fetters’ that keep us unwittingly attached to pain and rebirth, could a study of Hermes – the messenger god – provide some intriguing tools through which to view our world?

Come to learn from one another and discuss. Bring your lens. Bring your mind. It’s all we need for this session in Psychedelic Philosophy.

“Give us this day our daily faith but deliver us, dear God, from belief.” – Huxley’s ‘Island’, dictum found in the book, ‘A Book on What’s What, and What it might be Good to Do about What’s What.’

“The more we reflect on speech and its claims to represent an environment – in the widest sense of the word ‘represent’ – the more our universe looks like a network of communication. Intelligence is not an afterthought…If our language is systematically indeterminate, incomplete, embodied, developed through paradox, metaphor and formal structure, and interwoven with a silence that opens up further possibilities of speech, this language is a reality which consistently indicates a hinterland, as if it is always following on or always responding, living in the wake of or in the shadow of intelligible relations whose full scale is still obscure to us.” – Rowan Williams’ ‘Edge of Words’Reviews for Psychedelic Philosophy

★★★★★ Intimate, insightful, fun seminar! Mark is a great teacher and always welcomes suggestions and questions from the group. I will be attending again.

★★★★★ Amazing session. Lindsay is a great communicator and lecturer. There was a good balance between group discussions and Lindsay lecturing directly. Her passion for education and psychedelics is positively infectious. I will be attending another PS event again soon!

★★★★★ These events are always amazing. Trust me, you are going to learn something that will change your outlook.

★★★★★ Really good. Didn’t expect to like the discussion aspect but was actually incredibly useful. Saw a few, even stubborn minds changed and was certainly insightful and valuable. Thank you.

★★★★★ I had a really good time. The host was extremely knowledgeable and the talk was well paced and interesting.


Psychedelic Philosophy is a discussion group for people with an interest in exploring the philosophical issues related to the use of psychedelics. It is a lively, fun space to engage with ideas, have our preconceptions challenged, and connect with others interested in questioning what IS, and what it MEANS.

Sessions run every few weeks and include a short presentation by a facilitator, followed by structured discussion activities. Preparatory reading will be provided for those who want to do it, but homework is always optional!

Who will be facilitating these sessions?

Lindsay Jordan is a senior lecturer at the University of the Arts London, where she teaches philosophy and theory of education. She is currently researching the purpose of universities, the role of psychoactive substances as educational tools, and moral enhancement. She won the student prize at Breaking Convention 2017 for a doctoral assignment on psychedelic enquiry (, and spoke at Beyond Psychedelics 2018 on ‘What Are Psychedelics For?’ (

Mark Juhan graduated in Theology & Religious Studies from Pembroke College, Oxford and has just completed a masters Religion and Society at St John’s, Durham. He has been a lay chaplain and is currently applying for a doctorate in psychedelic theology. He is interested in the relationship between drugs and culture, specifically the potential of augmenting religion with ritual entheogenesis. Mark has spoken at Breaking Convention 2017 on Christicisms of mystical thrill-seeking ( and at Beyond Psychedelics 2018 on a social study he has conducted (

► Please arrive early for a 7pm start

► It involves a bring-and-share supper: bring culinary goodies if you can.

Please note that we can not offer refunds or exchanges. We do welcome swapping or reselling your tickets with people you know or on TicketSwap

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